Little Shop of Horrors is a musical that doesn’t hide the fact that its based on a stage show – at times feeling more like a video of a live performance rather than a film adaptation.
Based on a musical, which is based on a 1960 Roger Corman film, Little Shops of Horrors is a musical parody of classic b-movies/horrors in a similar vein to Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). It is filled with ridiculous songs, zany characters and over-the-top performances that make the film feel unrealistic but in the wrong sort of way.
The problem comes from a lack of any sort of real filmic elements. It is shot entirely on a studio set with the back-drops being clearly fake, whilst the overhead lighting just succeeds in making everything increasingly flat. The design and costumes also look like something from a theatre show rather than real life. This gives the horrible impression that the entire film is being performed – the characters don’t feel like characters they feel like actors – making it difficult to create any sort of real connection or for the jokes to really hit. Throw in cameos from stars such as John Candy, Billy Murray and Steve Martin – who basically plays the same role as Meatloaf in Rocky Horror but crazier – and the entire thing feels like a parody video made for Comic Relief or something. It is funny but in a tacky sort of way.
Luckily the film is saved by some fantastic puppetry and effects in the form of it’s flesh-eating plant Audrey II. Everything about the plant looks fantastic and whenever its on screen it detracts from all the problems discussed in the paragraph above. The balance of the plant between frightening and comedic is perfect as it looks just tacky enough to be funny and just scary enough to achieve its purpose. It’s movements are also wonderfully orchestrated and the “Feed Me (Git It)” song is one of the films highlights.
Overall though Little Shop of Horrors is a film which misses its mark… it just doesn’t have as much success as a parody as it should whilst also doesn’t entertain as a film itself. It’s a film which I was looking forward to and was ultimately disappointed by.
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